William Richard Kingdon Collings, a former assistant director of the Marine Department, may not have been well known in life but with his death, a period of Hong Kong history also slips away. Collings died in Southampton, south England, after a stroke on October 2. He was 103. However, the most eventful period of his life ended almost 50 years earlier, when he retired from Hong Kong in 1959. The naval architect and marine surveyor arrived in Hong Kong in 1932. He joined the Marine Department as a surveyor in 1933. The following years were spent with the looming spectre of a Japanese invasion and Collings devoted much time and energy to his role as a sergeant-major in the armoured car division of the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps. Collings, known as Dick, and his new wife, Muriel, narrowly escaped being captured by the Japanese when visiting Nanking in 1937. But they caught him on Christmas Day 1941. The war years were spent at the Sham Shui Po prisoner of war camp. His son Richard said he 'never showed any animosity towards the Japanese'. 'As other POWs have also remarked, the people of Japan are like other people of the world, good at heart until led by forces of evil,' his son said. After the war he was returned to Britain but the next year came back with his wife and two children to work at the Marine Department, rising to assistant director in 1956. On retiring, the department praised him for the major role he played in redrafting the laws governing the safety of ships in Hong Kong and the design of all new government launches and other specialised craft. He is survived by a son and a daughter, six grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.